Cuddle Parties are on the rise, and they’re exactly what they sound like. They’re platonic orgies where participants can experience non-sexual physical intimacy. They’re sometimes used as a form of therapy but often just exist for those who want or need no-strings, fully-clothed intimacy.
They’re popular all across the USA, from Washington to Florida, with a large concentration in California, and you can view them all online at the official Cuddle Party Page. Cuddleparty.com claims to now be in its 12th year of cuddling and is a well-established institution, constantly growing in popularity. They train facilitators, connect cuddlers and even list a Fight Club style list of rules which are read out at the beginning of each meeting. Fortunately, we are allowed to talk about cuddle parties.
At this point, it would be impossible not to mention my nationality. I am British. While most national stereotypes tend to be exaggerated, unhelpful and / or untrue, the famous British reserve is the real deal. One of our foremost broadcasters, Karl Pilkington, experienced one of these hugathons when forced to attend for the TV show An Idiot Abroad.
“This wouldn’t happen in England, this wouldn’t work, but in America they love all this sh*t,” Pilkington said.
We are Basil Fawlty, paranoid that the psychologist is attempting to analyse his sex life.
We are Mark Corrigan from Peep Show (what do you mean, you haven’t seen Peep Show? Leave. And do not return until you have watched all 9 series. Heathen.)
We do not want to be touched by strangers. We do not want to touch strangers. That is why, if you type in ‘England’ into the cuddleparty.com search bar, you are presented with this screen:
There’s something about the completely non-sexual approach which puts our hackles up. If someone wants to hook up with an attractive stranger on Tinder, we understand that, but we regard anyone who wants to cuddle or be cuddled by strangers with the level of suspicion found in this Reddit discussion:
And yet, across the Atlantic, the trend continues to flourish. Why?
I suppose the simplest answer is that some people like it.
They probably get the sense of well being and happiness that the organizers intend to cultivate. That doesn’t sound like too big a leap of the imagination. These events also seem to attract the stressed or lonely, those who need some platonic affection for their mental well-being.
Cuddleparty.com also lists some skills you will gain from attending the parties: confidence, boundary and communication skills, and the secrets to welcome, relaxed, non-sexual touch. Again, this is difficult to argue with – surviving such an intensely socially awkward situation will make chatting to new people seem like a walk in the park.
Cuddle parties are like jogging. A lot of people are into it. A lot of people feel fitter and healthier for doing it. Part of me begrudgingly thinks that it probably does feel good. But my overwhelming feeling is that you must be clinically insane to try it.
Of course, there’s always the other question: how far do cuddle parties go? With all that touching, massaging, and in some cases, kissing, cuddle parties must be loaded with a lethal amount of sexual tension. Cuddleparty.com’s rules forbid sex and nudity, but since when did rules stop anyone?
What happens at cuddle parties, stays at cuddle parties. If you really want to know the truth you’ll have to head to cuddleparty.com, but one thing’s for sure: you won’t see me there.